Minnesota Senate passes bill to toughen consequences for selling synthetic drugsConsequences for selling synthetic drugs soon could be stronger in Minnesota.
By: Danielle Nordine and Don Davis , Forum Communications
ST. PAUL — Consequences for selling synthetic drugs soon could be stronger in Minnesota.
The state Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday that would make the sale of synthetic drugs or analogs — compounds meant to mimic the effects of the actual drugs — a felony. It would carry penalties of up to five years in jail.
Currently, the punishment for selling analogs is a gross misdemeanor.
Giving away such compounds would become a gross misdemeanor under the plan, and possession would remain a misdemeanor.
While there already is a law against selling analogs in Minnesota, it essentially has been ignored by sellers like Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth, who have challenged it by arguing that it’s too vague and the compounds they sell can’t be identified as analogs.
For months, customers have lined up outside Carlson’s head shop most mornings waiting for him to open for business. Police raided the Last Place on Earth in September, seizing synthetic drugs, $83,510 in cash and 28 guns.
The new law would “broaden the language of how we accept an analog,” Duluth Police Lt. Steve Stracek has said. “It
broadens our ability to name a specific compound as an analog. We need to make sure that our experts and analysts are able to identify items as analogs, and that it can stand up in court.”
“It would appear that folks out on the street are inventing or reinventing these drugs faster than we can change these laws,” bill author Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said. “It’s sort of a new approach and an effort to stay ahead of folks that are manufacturing these chemicals.”
bill author Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said. “It’s sort of a new approach and an effort to stay ahead of folks that are manufacturing these chemicals.”
Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said synthetic drugs have been an issue in Duluth and supported the efforts to crack down even more on the problem.
“We took this issue on last year and made some changes,” said Reinert, who helped author the bill. “Unfortunately, the changes didn’t go far enough.”
The House approved a similar bill last week.
“These drugs are more akin to meth than marijuana and have negatively impacted our downtown business area and our local emergency rooms,” Reinert said in a news release.
If differences between the House and Senate bills can be reconciled, it will go to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature, Reinert said. The law would become effective Aug. 1, he said.
Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the News Tribune.